LONDON IRISH have received an early Christmas present with the news Matt Symons will be back to captain the side for Saturday’s Aviva Premiership clash with Northampton Saints.
Symons, who has missed the last three Exiles fixtures, will partner Nic Rouse in the second row during the Boxing Day clash at Madejski Stadium.
Tom Court and Ben Franks start in the front row alongside David Paice, who too makes his return to the side having missed the European Challenge Cup double header with Edinburgh in recent weeks.
Luke Narraway, Blair Cowan and Ofisa Treviranus make up the back row.
Brendan McKibbin and Chris Noakes are the half-back pairing, with Johnny Williams and Canada international Ciaran Hearn picked in midfield.
Aseli Tikoiro, Alex Lewington and Sean Maitland make up the back three.
“On behalf of the club, I would firstly like to wish all of our supporters a very Merry Christmas,” said head coach Tom Coventry, who will be looking to register his first league win with Irish this weekend.
“We hope you enjoy the festivities with family and friends.
“The squad have worked hard this week and responded well to the result in Edinburgh last Friday (an 18-15 defeat).
“Northampton are a top side and we know the challenge we face on Saturday, but we have prepared well and will go out and put in a passionate performance in front of our families and supporters.”
London Irish: Maitland; Lewington; Hearn; Williams; Tikoirotuma; Noakes; McKibbin; Court; Paice; Franks; Symons; Rouse; Narraway; Cowan; Treviranus.
Replacements: Stevens; Smallbone; Aulika; Trayfoot; Sinclair; Steele; Geraghty; Mulchrone.
The game kicks-off at 2.30pm.
– IRISH, however, have been dealt a fresh blow on the injury front as captain George Skivington will be sidelined for a further four months with a shoulder injury.
Skivington, who picked up the problem at the start of the season, has failed to respond to conservative treatment, so a decision to operate on the injury has been made following discussions with the relevant specialists.
Skivington remains on the list of long-term absentees alongside Eoin Sheriff (shoulder), Richard Palframan (hamstring) and Eoin Giffin (bicep).